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Shielding homeless people

Salvation Army worker David Drysdale* says the coming annual Red Shield Appeal is an opportunity to raise funds for homeless Australians and raise community awareness of the dangerous nature of their existence.


While the Red Shield Appeal helps provide food, shelter, accommodation and support to many homeless people throughout Australia each year, the issue of homelessness is especially raw in Melbourne following the eviction of homeless people from camps around Flinders Street Railways station, and the death of three homeless persons in a factory fire in Footscray, in inner-west Melbourne, on the evening of 1 March.

Salvation Army officer, Major Brendan Nottle, has described the tragedy as ‘a powerful reminder that amid all the debate [on homelessness and housing] you’re actually talking about human beings that are homeless and human beings that require long-term, well-supported, affordable accommodation’.

‘Leading into this year’s Red Shield Appeal we will be remembering the murder of “Mouse”, a homeless man who was murdered at the age of 42 on the banks of the Yarra River, on 5 January 2014. Mouse was sleeping rough,’ says Mr Drysdale.

‘We know there are some 105,000 living rough on Australia’s streets and in cars and “surfing” on friends’ couches,’ he adds, ‘and that the average age of someone who lives on the streets and dies on the streets is in their 40s.’

Homeless Australians face forms of assault, malnutrition, exposure and social isolation. Mr Drysdale says that as Australia prepares for winter ‘the Red Shield Appeal can serve as a reminder that homeless Australians need our help. We only see the “visible” homeless people,’ he adds, ‘but there are many Australians who need support, compassion and acceptance.’

The Salvation Army invites you to join the Army for a day and knock on doors to help collect for the Red Shield Appeal. Volunteers in Victoria can also help by collecting at intersections throughout the state.

* David is The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory’s marketing and fundraising director.

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